Interregional Innovation Investments Strand 1 (I3-2024-INV1)

  • Action type: I3-PJG I3 Project Grants
  • Opening date: 6 June 2024
  • Closing time: 5 December 2024 17:00 (Europe/Brussels)
  • Budget per project: € 10 000 000 of total € 31 000 000
  • Project duration: 18 and 36 months
  • Official website


Strand 1 of the I3 instrument seeks to increase the competitiveness and the resilience of EU value chains on the basis of interregional cooperation and shared smart specialisation areas. It targets consortia of innovation actors from regions (of different levels of development and innovation performance) with shared or complementary smart specialisation areas, which are ready to make investments in interregional innovation projects. 

The objective of the I3 Instrument Strand 1 call for proposals is to support interregional innovation investments by offering consortia of innovation actors from the quadruple helix ecosystems the necessary financial and advisory support to bring their innovations to a mature level, ready for commercialisation and scale-up, while bridging and reducing the innovation divide in Europe with a strong cohesion policy focus of integrating all regions and in particular the less developed regions into European value chains.

Thereby, applications under this call seek to facilitate:

  • the development of already existing or the creation of new interregional and cross-border value chains and a better connection between regional innovation ecosystems;
  • the collaboration between innovation actors, especially SMEs, from less developed regions and innovation actors, especially SMEs, from more developed regions, contributing to cohesion policy objectives.

Active participation of the less developed regions and outermost regions is strongly encouraged. Participation of innovation actors is based on shared or complementary innovation priorities, as defined in their regional and/or national smart specialisation strategies. Projects shall show a balanced participation of regions with varying levels of development and innovation performance.

I3 Instrument business investment cases start with a minimum TRL 6 and have the ambition to facilitate demonstration and to accelerate market uptake and commercialisation. The development of the business and investment cases is facilitated by the regional innovation ecosystems with companies in the lead.

The support to be provided shall be (a) financial (through direct funding of consortium’s beneficiaries or through cascade funding/financial support to third parties (FSTP)) or (b) nonfinancial (e.g. coaching, mentoring, matchmaking activities). See section 2.3 for conditions and details.

Themes and priorities

Applications under this call for proposals must address one of the following thematic priorities:

  1. Digital transition or
  2. Green transition or
  3. Smart manufacturing

Each project application under this call must address one thematic priority.

Digital transition

Digital technologies present an enormous growth potential for Europe. In line with the Europe fit for the digital age priority, this thematic priority targets investments in businesses and public administrations (notably in the part related to the innovation sector) with regards to the digital transition. Projects will unlock the potential for digital growth, deploying innovative solutions that improve accessibility and efficiency of services (both for businesses and citizens) while bridging the digital divide.

This thematic priority encourages applications in one or more or a combination of the following investment areas (non-exhaustive list):

  • Digital economy innovation
    • The deployment of innovative solutions for businesses digitalisation and digital services, including the use of artificial intelligence;
    • ICT up-take in SMEs applied to traditional and emerging sectors; B2B; B2C; Customer to Customer, including infrastructures and services (digital innovation hubs, living labs, etc.);
    • Demonstration of innovative digital technologies in view of the commercialisation of research results and a better integration in EU value chains;
    • User driven innovation and valorisation of traceability and big data;
    • Companies reinforcing EU cybersecurity value chain and protecting from hacking, ransomware and identity theft;
    • “Digital based” open innovation, supporting entrepreneurial discovery processes and cooperation between academia and businesses in the framework of smart specialisation;
    • Digital skills for companies adopting innovative digital technologies (upskilling and reskilling) in the framework of investments relevant for Smart Specialisation.
  • Digital transformation of public administration and public services
    • New or significantly upgraded services for e-government, including the take-up of Europe wide interoperable services which improve the efficiency of services delivered by public administrations to citizens, companies and other public bodies by using information and communication technologies such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity;
    • Investments in innovative solutions helping administrations to make services user-friendly, accessible and more interoperable. Those investments might include the demonstration of the validity of new digital technologies in view of the large-scale adoption of new IT systems, e.g. technologies for digitalisation in the health care system.

Green transition

Turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities is the ambition of the green transition. The European Green Deal has the goal to make Europe a resource-efficient and competitive economy, while reducing EU reliance on fossil fuels. In this framework, the EU has set targets to reach climate-neutrality by 2050. This will require substantial investments. This thematic priority intends to support innovative value chain investments, to boost the economy through green technology and to create sustainable industry/transport.

It also intends to provide support to interregional investments in sustainable food systems, sustainable agriculture, clean energy, sustainable industry, building and renovating, sustainable mobility and eliminating pollution.

This thematic priority encourages applications in one or more or a combination of the following investment areas (non-exhaustive list):

    • Innovative investments in decarbonisation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to improve air quality, health and wellbeing;
    • Innovative investments in SMART cities;
    • Innovative business investments related to smart, sustainable/efficient transport solutions and/or alternative fuels;
    • Investments in the management of natural resources, including the use of recycled materials, especially construction materials, plastics and textiles, to stimulate demand for secondary markets raw materials;
    • Business investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency to make industry more sustainable;
    • Business investments related to energy efficiency in buildings;
    • Business investments related to a sustainable blue economy, contributing to the coastal protection;
    • Business investments in circular economy to replicate and scale up successful circular economy solutions, which can generate EU added value;
    • Investments in bioeconomy, efficient and sustainable agriculture and forestry, innovation in marine/ maritime and inland water sustainable solutions.
    • Investments in sustainable business models and alternative modes of production and consumption (e.g. leasing, repair, modular design, industrial symbiosis…).

Smart manufacturing

This thematic priority focuses on improving the delivery of new or improved products, processes or services in the manufacturing industry and fostering a circular economy approach. In the context of advanced manufacturing; knowledge and innovative technologies are used to produce complex products and improve processes to lower waste, pollution, material consumption and energy use. Robotics, 3D and 4D printing, artificial intelligence as well as high performance computing for modelling are important elements in advanced manufacturing.

This thematic priority supports interregional innovation investments for the uptake of new or improved manufacturing solutions, as well as for supporting industry to face the challenge of digitalisation and to promote the shift towards a more environmentally sustainable production (zero pollution ambition for a toxic-free environment). This thematic priority encourages applications in one or a combination of the following investment areas (a non-exhaustive list):

    • Demonstration processes, i.e. helping new products to reach the market faster or having more efficient and sustainable processes adopted by the industry.
    • Valorisation of research results and practical applications for innovation diffusion. This might include the active involvement of ecosystems and the co-creation process with stakeholders and end-users.
    • Connecting or making complementary use of testing and demonstration facilities at interregional level. In this framework, synergies with circularity hubs are encouraged.
    • Improving the use of natural resources and in the reuse of materials, promoting circularity models (de- and remanufacturing) and investments in carbon neutrality.
    • Specific implementation (including funding) strategies, ensuring the participation of all stakeholders (industry, SMEs, local authorities, educational institutions and civil society).#Implementation of interregional demonstration cases to test and replicate the results.
    • Innovation diffusion and involvement of SMEs in EU value chains.

Expected impact at the closure of the project (non-exhaustive list)

  • Innovative technologies tested and adopted by companies and public administration;
  • Innovative solutions deployed improving businesses confidence, competences and means to digitalise and grow;
  • Contribution to digitisation and health systems transformation, through various types of innovation and the supply of IT services;
  • Uptake of technologically/economically reliable and viable solutions on the market;
  • Deployment of new green and digital technologies fostering the growth of Europe’s manufacturing sector;
  • Innovative technologies adopted by SMEs;
  • Identification of possible sources of funding/funding mix, to cover the residual investment needs (public-private partnerships for the deployment of innovation, the collaboration with venture capitals, EIB group loans etc);
  • Strengthening innovation diffusion channels;
  • Reinforcing the capacity of regions to co-invest together, joining forces on common S3 investment priorities (interregional investments)

Project budgets (maximum grant amount) are expected to range between EUR 2 million and EUR 10 million per project, but this does not preclude the submission/selection of proposals requesting other amounts, if duly justified in the application. The grant awarded may be lower than the amount requested. The costs for financial support to third parties cannot exceed 30% of the total eligible costs.

Projects are expected to range between 18 and 36 months. Extensions are possible, if duly justified and through an amendment.



Long-term impact (non-exhaustive list):

  • Increased companies’ productivity and efficiency;
  • Improved user-friendly, accessible and interoperable public services;
  • Improved level of digital skills;
  • Improved EU innovation capacity and competitiveness
  • Creating new market opportunities for EU companies;
  • Making the EU industry more efficient and sustainable;
  • Improved way of living and of doing business;
  • Increased social and territorial cohesion as well as personal well-being;
  • Improved education and vocational training systems (indirectly);
  • Reinforcing/reshaping EU value chains whilst increasing EU competitiveness in global markets;
  • Unlocking the innovation potential of EU regions/countries;
  • Contributing to the European Green Deal objectives;
  • Positive impact on environment, health, climate, social and economy;
  • Economic growth and job creation
  • Reinforcing/reshaping EU value chains whilst increasing the competitiveness of the EU in global markets.

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